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Date and time: Wednesday 19 July 2017. 5.30 - 7.00 pm
Topic: Impact evaluation: The counterfactual and beyond
Presenter: Brad Astbury, Centre for Program Evaluation, University of Melbourne
Venue: VicHealth Seminar Room, Ground Floor, 15‐31 Pelham Street, Carlton South
Register online by: Friday 14th July 2017

This is a free seminar organised by the VIC branch of the AES. Our monthly seminar series provides an opportunity for you to meet with AES members and others in Victoria and to share and learn from the experiences of fellow evaluators. Members are encouraged to bring along colleagues with an interest in the topic even if they are not yet members of the AES.

Seminar overview

There is emerging consensus that no single approach is best for addressing the variety of questions that need to be answered in order to provide a comprehensive account of program impact. Policy-makers and practitioners want to know whether the program worked, often to satisfy accountability requirements. Yet, they also want to know for whom, how, why and under what circumstances interventions work or fail to work. This knowledge is important to support learning, replication and transferability efforts.

Drawing on recent trends in impact evaluation, this presentation reviews several different options that evaluators can draw on to inform design decisions. The first part of the seminar addresses some foundational issues in impact evaluation, including the centrality of causation. The next part examines experimental and quasi-experimental approaches, and notes some important caveats to their application. A select overview of alternative approaches and strategies is then provided with a particular emphasis on the broad family of theory-based impact evaluation approaches (i.e. realist evaluation, contribution analysis, qualitative comparative analysis, process tracing and Scriven’s modus operandi method). The presentation will conclude by emphasising the merits of Cronbach’s functional approach to designing impact evaluations.

Presenter background

Brad Astbury is a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Centre for Program Evaluation (CPE), where he teaches introductory and advanced evaluation theory and methodology subjects within the Masters of Evaluation.

Brad has 15 years of experience in evaluating programs, mainly in the area of criminal justice, health, and education. Brad is co-author of three books, many journal articles and book chapters and numerous commissioned reports. Recent publications have appeared in the American Journal of Evaluation, Evaluation, Interdisciplinary Journal of Social Sciences, and Advances in Program Evaluation book series.

His main areas of interest are evaluation theory, social research methodology, and impact evaluation.

AES Evaluator’s Professional Domain of Competence: 4. Research Methods / Systematic Inquiry


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